Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Matarese Circle, by Robert Ludlum

(hb; 1979: prequel to The Matarese Countdown)

From the inside flap:

"Brandon Scofield, a ranking intelligence officer in America's clandestine services, is a veteran of twenty-two years - a lifetime of secrecy and violence. He has seen more of the world than he cares to remember. He is a tired man, but he remains the best in the field.

"Vasili Taleniekov, master strategist, KGB, the Soviet Union's most brilliant tactician, is both executioner and negotiator, hunter and quarry. He has spent twenty-five years in ruthless pursuit of Moscow's enemies. He, too, is tired, weary of the futility, but there is no one better in all Russia.

"Scofield and Taleniekov - professionals to the core - are also deadly enemies who have vowed to kill one another if ever they should meet. Their motives: Taleniekov was responsible for the death of Scofield's wife; Scofield engineered the murder of the Russian's brother.

"The deaths took place a decade ago. Now, both men have aged and are at the end of their careers. The tensions of the years have taken their toll; both are mistrusted by their own governments, both slated for termination. Or more final methods to ensure their silences.

"But Taleniekov has come upon one of the most frightening secrets of our time. He has discovered an organization called The Matarese that has been financing terrorist groups around the world. No one really knows the aim of The Matarese - only that it must be stopped. And the only men who can stop it are Brandon Scofield and Vasili Taleniekov - working together."


This is one of my favorite Ludlum books, if not my all-time favorite by the author. The lead characters are compelling and relatable - not only Scofield and Taleniekov, but Antonia Gravet, the Corsican woman whose mysterious ties with terrorists have toughened her cicatricial resolve to bring down those who murdered her kin.

The action and plot-twists are complex and believeable in accordance their shifting milieus; they resonate with the characters' motivations and personalities - while much of Circle's structuring and cinematic displays of carnage may be familiar to Ludlum's regular readers, it's the emotional components that made Circle stand out for me, particularly the evolving dynamics between Taleniekov and Scofield.

Excellent read, worth owning.

Followed by The Matarese Countdown.


A film, based on this novel, is in the works.

Here's the details (according to David Cronenberg is set to direct the film, from a script by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas.

Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington are set to star. Lazy casting choices to be sure, but whatever.

I'll update the film information when I get it (I haven't had much time to poke around the 'Net for information related to this project).

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